CHAPTER 9: Mend
Io prowled quickly through the convoluted streets and alleyways, sticking to the shadows as much as possible now that her face was exposed. Even with it being pitch dark and night it'd only take a glimmer of someone lighting up who knows what, for the light to be reflected off her silver scar. It had happened often enough in the four years since she had been given this scar.
Io paused in the shadow of an alley and waited while a group on three or four hunters passed by. This was why she had wanted to leave in the first place. The library was only about an hour away from where the hunters searched for 'wastes' and truth be told they were on the money with this. For the young children, even if they escaped S.E.L.F., the exit opened up here and they'd unsuspectingly walk into a secondary catching point for 'wasteful beings.'
She waited fifteen minutes before moving on. She needed to be quick and it was taking too long as it was. What if the child was no more when she back? Io's shoulders slumped, but then straightened up. No, she couldn't think that way. She did not go through all the trouble of finding the perfect person to be her family only to lose them. Io's eyes glimmered with determination as she snuck through various check points for illegal contraband or foreign residents that did not go through correct measures for entering a new city.
After an additional thirty minutes had passed, Io finally reached her destination. The Tart's Pie. It was a raunchy place filled with unsavory people. Io carefully kept to the shadows, making sure her hood was pulled up over her face, blocking the silver that ran over her face. She had heard that the reward for runaway 'wastes' was substantial enough for one to have a decent living for two or three years.
Io climbed up the side of a building wincing when a bawdy group of five men came outside with a young woman and man. It was a disgusting sight to see. The vacant look in the couple's eyes as they worked to please left Io's stomach churning, and memories of her brief captivity with the cannibals threatening to overwhelm her. Io closed her eyes breathing deeply trying focusing on why she was here in order to keep the memories at bay.
Io continued climbing up until she got to the fifth story of the building. She pushed gently on a darkened room's window hoping that she'd guessed right. The window didn't budge. Io cursed silently in her mind and she judged the leverage she had and if there any other foot holds to get to another window for this level. Nothing. That child better be alive when she gets back. Io mumbled to herself as she climbed upwards to the sixth floor. Her right hand was killing her as it was hard to grip and hold her weight with the two fingers she had, while her left arm was sore due to having to overcompensate for the weak grip her right hand offered.
She knocked on another darkened window and was heartened when it opened ever so slightly. With her right hand she slowly nudged the window open listening for any activities that may be going on inside. She sighed with relief when there where none and quickly climbed in. Io crouched down low immediately, left hand gripping her bone sword as she waited just in case. No signs of movement. Io relaxed, moved towards the vanity, and opened the drawers.
Inside were flimsy bits of cloth. Io bit her lip, but for her new family she'd made her choice. She closed the drawer, slipped her off her black duster daintily hanging it on the coat rack, exchanging it one of the silk robes hooks and wrapped it around herself. The wrap was too big and dragged on the floor, but luckily there was plenty of room to overlap the edges and to tie that belt around her waist two or three times. Io had worn shorts and tank top in preparation for this.
Io then loosened her waist-length braid then rolled it up into a bun, aside from a few key pieces and slid a delicate bone needle from her bracer into place. Lastly, Io pulled the robe aside and grabbed a small packet from her shorts. She had decided that if she was going to do this, that she needed to go all out. This was the last of her appearance modifier. It was the only thing that would cover her scar. It would wear off within two hours, but that was more than enough.
She had paid dearly for this. The jobs she'd taken to get the cash. She shuddered. For these pieces she had had to hunt in The Tunnels. After all Io had experienced, she had never wanted to go back there again, but needs must be me and survival like the picky. However, she did leave quite the trail of carnage on her way out.
That child definitely better be alive when she gets back otherwise… Io paused as her chest ached. Strange… Anyways, Io pinched her cheeks adding some color to her alabaster complexion and made sure the modification was in place. Once her final checks were completed, she left the room, hips swaying gently as she sauntered down the hall, an alluring yet delicate flower drifting on the wind. Full of promise, and yet so little time to enjoy it.
In the hallways men and woman roamed, hands gliding, caressing, or tearing at clothing. The moans of decadence drifting through the hallway. A man tried grabbing her wrist to pull her into the writhing mass, but Io managed to shove scantily clad woman who had been walking by his way. Io smirked at the man as she continued down the hallway making sure to give him a playful wink, while inwardly she shuddered.
Eventually, Io reached the first floor after dodging what felt like a thousand hands trying to pull her into varies lascivious activities. She went to the back of the building the on the first floor careful keep up appearances. There was no exit from this part of the building, hence all the acrobatics. Not to mention the rowdiest of the building's populace was at the front of the building, and management as well. She'd have to scrub a good layer of skin off before she got back, Io thought to herself as she jimmied the lock. With a quiet snick, the locked popped open and Io silently sauntered into the office at the back of the establishment.
The office was the epitome of gross between the ads for craven pleasures, and the toys. Io curled her lip in disgust at the distinct lack of sanitation. She shut the door behind her Now, if she remembered correctly from overhearing that braggart it should held by his 'woman.'
Io could feel her eyes narrowing. This scum, wasn't rich enough to afford a woman, and while he was in management, he was more of a gopher. Upper management worked on floors ten and eleven, leaving the mundane day-to-day dealings this dirtbag. She looked through the office carefully. In amidst the filth in the corner she noticed a large doll dressed in a lace teddy.
Bingo. Io strode over and pulling the bone needle out of her hair creating a contrast between her long white hair falling around her red-clad form and the look of indifference on her face as she slashed the doll open. Her eyes darted and her right hand grabbed the tiny vial. 'Mend' was always a hot commodity in The Ruins. It couldn't cure you if you were dying, but sealing up a wound was a piece of cake. It was highly sought after and guarded.
Io had been in the right place at the right time when that deal between, Garren and an illegal dealer Snip had gone down. Even luckier that she had not been noticed. Io slid the vial between the braided pieces of the bracer on her right wrist and turned to leave when the lock let out a soft snick. Io hopped onto the desk, arranged her red robe in a coquettish manner and ran her finger-combed her hair, creating a juxtaposition between the seductive red robe and her young looks.
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